Nikon Coolpix P310: The affordable f/1.8 compact for photographers

The Nikon Coolpix P310 updates the excellent Coolpix P300 launched in 2011 and offers a relatively high-end, but not expensive, compact with plenty of creative controls for photographers who want a little more out of their pocketable camera.

Headlining the specs is the Nikkor 4.2x lens, offering 24mm at the widest angle along with an impressive f/1.8 maximum aperture for those dramatic portraits.

The backlit 16-megapixel CMOS 1/2.3 type sensor offers lens shift VR, which claims to offers stability with shutter speeds up to four stops slower, and supported by the new Expeed C2 image processor. The smaller sensor might not compete with the likes of the Canon Powershot S100 in terms of size, but accounts for the relative affordability of this model.

The top-mounted mode dial offers up regular Auto, but more importantly offers instant access to manual controls through program, aperture, shutter priorities and full manual shooting.

Cleverly, you're also offered a 99-point AF system, supporting the manual focusing option so you can wrestle control away from the automatic and get the shot you want.

There is a new function button on the front of the camera, which wasn't present on the P300 forebear. This, says Nikon, can be programmed to act as a shortcut to your favourite shooting settings, so you don't have to dig through the menus. There is also a new U (user) mode on the top dial, again, for instant access to your favourite settings. 

Other important controls include a top-mounted thumb dial in addition to a rear dial, giving you easy controls over shutter and aperture in manual shooting (for example).

On the back of the camera you also have a high resolution 3-inch 921k-dot LCD display, along with the video instant capture button, which will fire up the 1080p video, along with stereo audio, and fast and slow motion options are available too.

The left should sees a neat pop-up flash, which needs to be manually deployed, giving you a little more control over its use. An HDMI means you can simply and easily hook up to your TV to playback your video or share photos.

You also get a collection of clever features, including panoramic shooting, auto HDR and 3D stills. The Nikon Coolpix P310 will capture up to five shots at 6fps, or 30 shots at 1fps.

The rather utilitarian design has an elegant simplicity, but offers two body colours, black and white. It can be yours for £299 and will be available from 22 March 2012 and at that price might be tempting for those who want a second camera for the pocket when the DSLR is just to big to lug around.



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